About the project

This three year programme of research (2015-2018) provides the first systematic comparative analysis of green economy-focused smart city and eco-city initiatives in China and Europe. This will inform the identification of opportunities and pathways for shaping national and collaborative international urban and economic policy responses, engaging the state, the business sector and communities in delivering ‘smart eco-city’ initiatives that can promote the growth of the green economy.

The project is led by Federico Caprotti (University of Exeter), and is composed of five national teams working in collaboration with each other:

UK team: the universities of Exeter, Westminster, Plymouth, King’s College London and Cardiff
China team: the University of Nottingham Ningbo China and National Taiwan University
Netherlands team: Utrecht University and TU-Delft
Germany team: Freiburg University
France team: the University of Toulouse and the French Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)

The SMART-ECO project has a particular focus on what we are calling the ‘smart-eco city’, defined as an experimental city which functions as a potential niche where both environmental and economic reforms can be tested and introduced in areas which are both spatially proximate (the surrounding region) and in an international context (through networks of knowledge, technology and policy transfer and learning). Key questions addressed in the research include the following:

  • how should success in smart eco-city initiatives be evaluated?
  • what are the main obstacles to successful projects?
  • what generalisable lessons can be drawn from successful smart eco-cities, in socio-economic and policy terms?
  • how can knowledge effectively be shared across the context of European and Chinese urban-economic policymaking for smart eco-cities?

As well as mapping out current smart-eco activity internationally, we are conducting comparative analysis drawing on in-depth studies of four specific cities in China (Ningbo, Shanghai, Shenzhen & Wuhan) and four in Europe (Amsterdam, Bordeaux, Hamburg & Manchester).



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